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Driver Hospitalized After Shooting

POSTED: 6:24 am EST November 3, 2005
UPDATED: 12:01 pm EST November 3, 2005

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- An unidentified motorist is not expected to survive after being shot by a State Police trooper in Fitchburg early Thursday morning, allegedly after failing to stop for an officer and hitting a parked car.

"We have one suspect that was in the vehicle was transported to UMass Medical Center with serious injuries. The trooper was treated for a minor injury to his hand ... the investigation is ongoing. We have all our crime scene services, detectives from the district attorney's office, and we'll be conducting an investigation, both administratively and also a criminal investigation into the incident," State Police Lt. Sharon Costine said.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that the incident took place about 2 a.m., when the officer tried to make a routine traffic stop on Nashua Street. The driver of the car kept going, however, and State Police were called in to help.

At some point, a 12-year veteran State Trooper assigned to the Leominster barracks shot the motorist on Spruce Street. The man was hospitalized at UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass. He is in critical condition.

Copyright 2005 by TheBostonChannel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

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Man shot by state trooper dies after being taken off life support

November 4, 2005

FITCHBURG, Mass. --A Fitchburg man who was shot by a state trooper died Friday after being removed from life supportit. Police said 30-year-old Preston Johnson was driving erratically and hit a parked car early Thursday in Fitchburg. He allegedly did not stop for local police and the state police were called in to help.

When he finally stopped, the trooper and a Fitchburg police officer approached. Johnson apparently drove at the two officers, and the trooper fired shots in self-defense, according to a lawyer for the state police union.

Johnson was on life support at UMass Memorial Medical Center as doctors awaited the arrival of his mother from Mississippi before removing the equipment.

Worcester District Attorney John Conte, whose office is investigating the shooting, said Preston was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after he was taken off a ventilator by a doctor. He had been declared brain dead Thursday, Conte said.

Conte said Preston's body will be sent to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy that is expected to be completed Monday. He said the investigation of the shooting is continuing.

"I've got to get the autopsy report, and we've got to complete our interview of the officers and any other witnesses that there may be out there," Conte said.

The trooper, identified by the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester as Donald C. Gray, an 11-year veteran, was hospitalized with a minor hand injury. The trooper was placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation, state police spokesman Thomas Ryan said.

Johnson served four years in prison for shooting at two Fitchburg State College students. His license was suspended in June for numerous traffic violations, including speeding and failing to obey an officer.
 

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Chalk one up for the good guys. His family is already throwing around the race card, saying he was just a black man sitting in his car (probably working on his GED, just bought a Thighmaster, all the other usual b.s.) I say just a violent convict who won't be around to hurt anyone else.
 

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Man shot by trooper is dead

Saturday, November 5, 2005 Man shot by trooper is dead

Life support removed by Johnson's family

By Matthew Bruun and Milton J. Valencia TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF


Mr. Johnson
Enlarge photo

FITCHBURG- Preston D. Johnson, shot by a state trooper early Thursday, died yesterday after his family told doctors to disconnect life support.

Mr. Johnson, 30, of 3 Portland St. was shot about 2 a.m. Thursday by Trooper Donald C. Gray, an 11-year veteran.

A lawyer for the state police said Trooper Gray fired to protect a Fitchburg police officer after Mr. Johnson steered his car toward the Fitchburg officer. Mr. Johnson had already driven his car at the trooper, the lawyer said.

Mr. Johnson, who family members said was shot in the back of the head, was removed from life support yesterday afternoon. He had been declared brain dead Thursday, but was kept on life support to allow his mother, traveling from Mississippi, to see him.

"My brother's gone home to rest," Joyce Johnson said.

Family members expressed outrage at the shooting, and said Mr. Johnson, whose criminal past they acknowledged, was turning his life around.

Ms. Johnson yesterday lashed out at prosecutors and state police, saying her family received little information about the shooting. At the same time, she argued, officials were quick to announce to news media outlets that her brother had died, which she called a violation of his privacy. She also questioned what led to an incident in which her brother would be shot in the back of the head, saying officials have yet to explain the circumstances to her family.

Prosecutors had been prepared to file criminal charges against Mr. Johnson, including two counts of assault with intent to murder for allegedly driving at the trooper and the officer. Ms. Johnson argued that no one has explained why the trooper tried to stop him in the first place.

"They shot my brother in the head, and now they want to put him in jail," Ms. Johnson said Thursday, while her brother was still connected to life support.

Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte's office is investigating the shooting.

Timothy M. Burke, legal counsel to the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said Trooper Gray met with Mr. Conte yesterday morning in the Worcester courthouse. Mr. Conte is scheduled Monday to interview the Fitchburg police officer who was at the scene. That officer's name has not been made public.

Trooper Gray has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation, a state police spokesman said Thursday.

Mr. Burke said Trooper Gray had been "fully cooperative" with investigators. He said there was no timetable for the inquiry to be completed.

Mr. Burke provided the following account of the moments before the shooting: Trooper Gray was standing on the driver's side of Mr. Johnson's vehicle while a Fitchburg officer stood in front. The police were ordering him to exit when Mr. Johnson tried to drive off. Trooper Gray tried to smash the driver's side window in an attempt to stop it.

"You have an individual who is unwilling to surrender to police after a pursuit," Mr. Burke continued. "It's a tense, evolving situation."

The situation escalated when Mr. Johnson drove his vehicle toward the police officers, Mr. Burke said.

"The suspect then angled the vehicle sharply to his left, made contact with the trooper and was heading toward the Fitchburg officer," Mr. Burke said. "That's when the shot was fired."

Mr. Burke described Trooper Gray as a very experienced and cool-headed veteran who fired to protect a fellow police officer.

The sport utility vehicle came to rest in a driveway on Spruce Street. Neighbors recalled hearing a crash, and the occupant of the house said she saw the driver lying unconscious on the passenger seat.

Mr. Johnson had a long criminal record, including serving four years in prison for shooting at two Fitchburg State College students in 1996. Family members said he had been trying to turn his life around since his release from prison in 2001.

He had several brushes with the law since, including having his driver's license suspended for numerous traffic violations. He was arrested by state police in Fitchburg in June after a trooper spotted him driving a motorcycle with his feet.

But family members argued that Mr. Johnson's past has nothing to do with Thursday's incident, and questioned how a traffic violation could lead to a shooting.

"They portrayed him like he was a thug, when he's a young black entrepreneur," said Valerie Hallolden, of Lunenburg, a close family friend.

Mr. Johnson, known to friends as "P," was nearing completion of barber school and wanted to open his own shop, friends said. He had worked in construction and as an auto mechanic.

He leaves two children, a son Alexander, 13, and a daughter, Shameeda, 9. Family members said he had grown distant from Alexander because of his past, but tried to make up his fatherhood with Shameeda, who family members said looks like him.

He had been with a girlfriend, Maribel Torres, for several years, and the two were close, family members said.

Angel Torres, Maribel's brother and the boyfriend of Joyce Johnson, said Mr. Johnson was at a friend's house earlier Thursday evening. Mr. Torres did not know where Mr. Johnson had been before the shooting, but said he was on his way home and was only blocks away when the shooting occurred.

"He wasn't doing 360s or anything. He was on his way home," Mr. Torres said Thursday. He also questioned how his friend could be shot in the back of the head for what he called a traffic violation.

A state police department policy prohibiting officers from discharging firearms at moving vehicles "unless any occupant uses or threatens to use lethal force" will likely be used to determine whether Trooper Gray's actions were justified.

Police officers are not allowed to shoot at moving vehicles except when they feel there is an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death, according to state and many local police department policies.

The state police arrest log at the Leominster barracks offered no insight yesterday into the motor vehicle infraction that led Trooper Gray to attempt a stop, where the pursuit began, or at what time. It showed the charges against Mr. Preston as being recorded at 1:54 a.m., about the time neighbors said they heard at least one gunshot.

Many police departments' policies on when officers can shoot at moving vehicles vary only slightly. Worcester and Fitchburg police guidelines are similar to those of state police.

Officers are authorized to shoot at the moving vehicle when there is a threat of bodily harm to the officer, other officers or the public. Worcester policy also prohibits officers from disabling the vehicle with gunshots.

The last time an officer shot at a motorist in Fitchburg was Oct. 18, 2001. Police Sgt. Jeffrey J. Howe, then a patrolman, was cleared of wrongdoing in shooting three shots at a moving vehicle on John Fitch Highway when Charles E. Thore, was ramming his car into the officer's cruiser. One shot hit Mr. Thore in the neck, injuring him.

Mr. Thore pleaded guilty in 2002 to the charges stemming from the volatile confrontation. He was sentenced to four years in state prison.

Christina E. Sanchez of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.
 

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yeah just a good ol boy aiming his car at local and state police having a few kicks with with the fellas, im sure he was just kidding around and planned on stoping as soon as his tires fell off. how dare the cops tried protecting themselves, they should of known he was turning his life around
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

Family members expressed outrage at the shooting, and said Mr. Johnson, whose criminal past they acknowledged, was turning his life around.
At the same time, she argued, officials were quick to announce to news media outlets that her brother had died, which she called a violation of his privacy.
Prosecutors had been prepared to file criminal charges against Mr. Johnson, including two counts of assault with intent to murder
Mr. Johnson had a long criminal record, including serving four years in prison for shooting at two Fitchburg State College students in 1996
"You have an individual who is unwilling to surrender to police after a pursuit," Mr. Burke continued. "It's a tense, evolving situation."
Apparently there was a chase, as the lawyer sliped and said..... good job...
So he fled, tried to kill two officers, which is his second (at least) attempted-double-homicide, but all the family can say is the carbon-copy "Hes a good kid with a bad past turning himself around, and a good father too"
Can they REALLY wonder why the police tell them to read the newspaper to get the info on the case?
Asshats.....
 
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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

A resonable person will stop for a police cruiser. That fact that Johnson was driving on a suspended driver's license, did not stop for the police, and then drove his vehicle at the Trooper and the Fitchburg Officer is in stark contradiction to a person turning his life around. If a man was trying to run me over with a vehicle, my wife and family would want and expect me or another officer to use deadly force to make sure I make it home alive. Johnson made decisions. No one else coerced his decision making. If he was turning his life around, Mr Johnson should have stopped (like every other law abiding reasonable person) and all he would have recieved would have been a court summons and probably a CWOF. I do not like to see anyone die, but if a suspect creates a deadly force situation, I am not going to be the one who dies.
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

Sorry that Mr Johnson died. Glad the Trooper and fitchburg Officer are alive.
Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

I KNOW
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

While I agree the trooper had no other choice than to use deadly force, the trooper did take a life. If it was the trooper on life support and his family decided to pull the plug, you would still call it murder. I'm sure the Johnson family decided to remove life support after likely being told by doctors there was little or no chance of recovery. I am no doctor, but lets face it, a person kept alive by machines is not truly alive. Its just an unfortunate situation for all parties involved. The Johnson family has lost their loved one and the trooper will carry this dark day for the rest of his life. And whose to say, maybe the guy was trying to turn his life around but stepped backwards by using poor judgement on that particular day and paid the ultimate price. I want to say, let this serve as a lesson to others, but don't we say that after every incident? When does the cycle end?
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

HOOPCITYDETECTIVE said:
While I agree the trooper had no other choice than to use deadly force, the trooper did take a life. If it was the trooper on life support and his family decided to pull the plug, you would still call it murder. I'm sure the Johnson family decided to remove life support after likely being told by doctors there was little or no chance of recovery. I am no doctor, but lets face it, a person kept alive by machines is not truly alive. Its just an unfortunate situation for all parties involved. The Johnson family has lost their loved one and the trooper will carry this dark day for the rest of his life. And whose to say, maybe the guy was trying to turn his life around but stepped backwards by using poor judgement on that particular day and paid the ultimate price. I want to say, let this serve as a lesson to others, but don't we say that after every incident? When does the cycle end?
Seriously???!!! What the HELL are you doing on this thread? Is this Alan Dershowitz disguised as HoopCity Detective. I can only guess that you monkier means your a Springfield cop...too bad for Springfiled PD. "Maybe he was trying to turn his life around? Buddy ,if you are a cop you need to turn your life around and work for the ACLU :sb:
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

HOOPCITYDETECTIVE said:
While I agree the trooper had no other choice than to use deadly force, the trooper did take a life. If it was the trooper on life support and his family decided to pull the plug, you would still call it murder. I'm sure the Johnson family decided to remove life support after likely being told by doctors there was little or no chance of recovery. I am no doctor, but lets face it, a person kept alive by machines is not truly alive. Its just an unfortunate situation for all parties involved. The Johnson family has lost their loved one and the trooper will carry this dark day for the rest of his life. And whose to say, maybe the guy was trying to turn his life around but stepped backwards by using poor judgement on that particular day and paid the ultimate price. I want to say, let this serve as a lesson to others, but don't we say that after every incident? When does the cycle end?
Are you crazy? What the hell are you talking about? This guy was locked up for double attempted murder, and then tries to kill a trooper and an officer after a lengthly pursuit. The trooper did what he had to do, and likely saved the life of a local officer in the process. What's this "dark day, the guy was turning his life around, lesson learned shit?" I agree with MallCop, go join the ACLU. Between this post, some of your other posts, and your Boston Special Officer post where you're antigun bias shows true, you really ought to think before you post.

How did you pass your psych eval... oh, wait, Circut City doesn't require psych testing for it's watchmen.
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

JoninNH said:
Are you crazy? What the hell are you talking about? This guy was locked up for double attempted murder, and then tries to kill a trooper and an officer after a lengthly pursuit. The trooper did what he had to do, and likely saved the life of a local officer in the process. What's this "dark day, the guy was turning his life around, lesson learned shit?" I agree with MallCop, go join the ACLU. Between this post, some of your other posts, and your Boston Special Officer post where you're antigun bias shows true, you really ought to think before you post.

How did you pass your psych eval... oh, wait, Circut City doesn't require psych testing for it's watchmen.
JoninNH, I'm still fuming about this a-hole, the only thing I can think is that he was just throwing a grenade out there to bust balls ...I hope, But, seriously this isn't funny. Can you imagine what that poor trooper is going through. If its not enough to take shit from the media, the victim's family and the job (Everything is pending an investigation) but, to take shit from your fellow officers. Hoop city whatever, turn your gun and badge in, move to liberal town and spend the rest of your career turning bad guys lives around. Lots of Luck Loser =;
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

Trooper Gray is a good police officer. He backed me up and other officers in my area numerous times and he is a go-getter even after 12 yrs on the job. All the best wishes to him and his family.
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

HOOPCITYDETECTIVE said:
I want to say, let this serve as a lesson to others, but don't we say that after every incident? When does the cycle end?
His cycle just ended, now you can consider him rehabilitated.
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

Trooper Gray is a good cop. I have spent a few mornings on the midshift talking to him. Its nothing for him to sit there 30 to 45 minutes after his shift ends, bsing and telling me to pull his wife over. I second what j809 stated that he is a go- getter and I hear nothing but good things about him. All the guys in my department like him. All the best to him and his family
 

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Re: Man shot by trooper is dead

To Trooper Grey, you did the right thing, brother, don't let anyone tell you any different.....remember the first rule of law enforcement.
 
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